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House Energy and Environment Notes

Both chambers of Congress are in recess now, but there were some goings-on in the House last Wednesday that merit mention.

The first was EPA Gina McCarthy’s two appearances before House subcommittees in order to defend her FY 2017 budget. In the morning, she testified before the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. In the afternoon, she appeared before a joint hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittees on Environment and the Economy and on Energy and Power.

As well-reported by E&E Daily’s ($) Amanda Reilly,

Chief among the criticisms raised by GOP lawmakers was that EPA is focusing on the Clean Power Plan and other climate change initiatives to the detriment of other agency priorities, including ailing water infrastructure…

“I know that the agency has an ambitious agenda it would like to put in place before President Obama’s tenure in the White House is completed,” [Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred] Upton said. “But the EPA should focus its efforts less on finalizing a wave of new regulations and more on getting back to the basic functions for which the agency was created”…

“You’ve given us a smorgasbord of things to go after,” said Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) at the day’s second hearing.

“By cutting EPA's budget and reducing its staff levels, our intent is that you'll refocus your limited resources toward implementing and enforcing congressionally authorized core missions and policies,” said Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. “We want you to do your job -- no more, no less.”

Bravo!!! I applaud the majority party’s reasoning and rhetoric. I’ve before bemoaned the EPA’s spending the preponderance of its discretionary resources on climate change regulations—which the agency admits won’t do anything—while the agency ignores its myriad non-discretionary responsibilities that were assigned by Congress. Foremost among these nondiscretionary duties is working with states to improve the nation’s air and water quality. Alas, the current administration deems such nuts and bolts implementation of enabling statutes to be too pedestrian, and instead spends all its time and money on “aspirational” climate goals. The majority party is correct to highlight the EPA’s gross dereliction of duty. It’s a winning issue.

I was particularly struck by Rep. Shimkus’s language. He told EPA to “do your job.” That’s the exact phrase—“Do Your Job”—that I’ve before advocated as a campaign slogan for any presidential hopeful intent on reforming the EPA. Read all about it at this post, “A Positive EPA Platform for Presidential Hopefuls.”

The other notable event on Wednesday was my testimony before the House Science Committee Environment Subcommittee about the EPA’s Regional Haze regulation. My written testimony is available here. I’ve posted various video from the hearing below.

In a nutshell, EPA’s Regional Haze program is perhaps EPA’s most outrageous rule, and that’s saying something. After all, this is the agency that imposed a $10 billion per year regulation to protect a putative population of pregnant subsistence fisherwomen, who during their pregnancy consume more than 200 pounds of self-caught fish from exclusively the top 10 percent most polluted fresh inland bodies of water. Incredibly, EPA’s Regional Haze rule is even dumber. It’s an aesthetic regulation that costs billions but whose benefits are literally invisible. See all about it below. My introductory remarks start at the 17 minute mark. I’ve posted the question exchanges thereafter.

My testimony:

Exchange with Chairman Bridenstine:

Exchange with Rep. Neugebauer:

Exchange with Rep. Moolenaar:

Exchange with Rep. Abraham:

Exchange with Rep. Palmer: